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Post Info TOPIC: Nic revisits his childhood house in this 1998 interview - first part

Senior Member

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RE: Nic revisits his childhood house in this 1998 interview - first part

I had never read this! Thanks for posting it


Deep but naughty Vixen

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i agree mara. And because he is an actor with such integrity he exposes his soul in each performance. He really does put it out there. It must be so hard to keep centred and grounded. He has given us fans SO MUCH in his vast library of work, and i for one am truly grateful. All his films will stand their ground forever. Thankyou Nic!

the shadow is the greatest teacher for showing us how to come to the light ram dass

Senorita Vixen

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Lula, that´s exactly what I like the most about this particular interview, his awareness of the current owner of the house. He sounds so worried all the time about not intruding... that´s very sweet IMO. Like he still had the ability to forget about fame and be a regular Joe once more... Wonder if he still has this trait on him. Must be very difficult to put up with fame without changing/adapting one´s personality a great deal.

lula wrote:

i read this a time ago but am so moved reading again. What touches me is nic's incredible sensitivity, both his own vulnerability and awareness of others. He is such a pure talent with a rare deep energy. it makes me feel guilty + protective towards him and his privacy!but such a magnetic soul!




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He does seem to have a good soulsmile.gif I think thats why we are all fans of his, his great talent- plus the fact that he seems to be such a nice and genuine human being from what we have read about him.


Deep but naughty Vixen

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i read this a time ago but am so moved reading again. What touches me is nic's incredible sensitivity, both his own vulnerability and awareness of others. He is such a pure talent with a rare deep energy. it makes me feel guilty + protective towards him and his privacy!but such a magnetic soul!

the shadow is the greatest teacher for showing us how to come to the light ram dass


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I'm not sure if I've read this before, but it was NICe to read again! Thanks for sharing Mara smile


Leather fetish forum founder - In a world of her own...planet CAGE!

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Yep...I've read this before too!biggrinwink



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Thanks for posting this Mara, i also read this in the Biography of Nicolas Cage book.  I also read in that book about a road trip that he went on once too which was also very interesting and cool to read about.



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I remember reading this interview years ago.  Back then and to this day, I think that this is probably the most honest and soul-baring interview Nic has ever done.

Thanks Mara!


~~I like the dreams of the future
better than the history of the past~~

Senorita Vixen

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RE: Nic revisits his childhood house in this 1998 interview - third part


Whatever comes to him once he´s inside the house has blunted Cage´s edge and rendered him mute and wary.

«You can tell I don´t have a housekeeper, » Ellen says, laughing.

«This fireplace, » he says, entranced. «Yes, and that´s where the TV was, up against the wall, and I used to sit on this round, red carpet and try to get inside. Right there. »

It is a small brick fireplace, open on three sides, in a small, low-ceilinged living room. The television stares back from the far wall, close to a sliding door that opens to a patch of green outside.

«You mind if I look at your backyard? Is it okay? I am sorry to just drop in on you. I am sorry. »

Too sorry. How strange is it, really, for someone to cruise by the old house and decide to ring the bell? Ellen is rapt, beside herself with glee: It´s Nicolas Cage, in her living room. But Cage himself seems to resonate with the guilty child´s inchoate fear that anything he may say or do - has said, has done- may not only be wrong but shatter a family´s peace.

Out in the sun, he smiles to himself. «I loved this backyard. This backyard is so great for kids. »

Back inside the house, he wants to go. «Which wall would you like me to sing?» he asks. Ellen high on the kitchen wall to a small overhang where the living room begins.

«I hate to mar your house up, » Nic Cage says. «Is there a paper or something I can sign? You seriously want me to write up there? »

«I seriously want you to, yes. » She pulls a dinette chair for him to stand on. «I seriously want you to. »

«All right, » says Cage, stepping up.

At Ellen´s prompting, he writes, «To Eric, Shannan, Steve, and Ellen I love this house, » and signs his name.

«So you have good memories here? » asks Ellen.

«Yeah. Well, I have memories, yeah. » His voice trails off. «Well,» he says, «that was very kind of you, to let us come by. All right. God bless you.»

He edges out the door. He wants to walk. We walk up the block and around to an alley that runs behind the house.

He seems pensive, distant. I ask if he´s all right.

«Yeah, » he says. «It´s kinda sad. It´s hard. It´s draining. I mean, just, you know, you know, there´s an overwhelming kind of combination of things I´m feeling right now. Sort of a melancholia and sort of a release, a freedom. It looks better than I thought it was gonna look. I´m not talking about the house -the whole area, the whole neighborhood, everything. It looks charming. All this stuff that I´ve tried to do, this drive, the desire to make it -when I see what my life could have been, the simplicity of it, the charm of just not trying so hard. And I wonder -if I´d just stayed here, somehow. »

This is the danger of wading too deep into nostalgia, into that ocean of a child´s feeling-memory: to be swept under and out of sight by the tow of illusion, of what-might-have-been. The happy family intact, the tidy life becalmed by sanity. But real life, terra firma, is a struggle. Divorce, departure, insanity, the ferocity of drive, the burning desire to get out, move on: That, sometimes, is life. And sometimes art.

What drives Cage now? What can he be afraid of anymore?

«I fear in some way losing balance. I know that my ideas and feelings are applicable to the nature of the work I do. I´d rather that they go somewhere productive than explode on myself; in other words, it seems that I´m avoiding some kind of insanity. That´s why I work so hard. »

We´re coming back around the block now, back to where the Ferrari is parked. Word of his return has gotten out, and suddenly Cage is surrounded by old neighors whose children he grew up with. They shake his hand; they go to get their cameras.

«Yeah», says one, a skinny old man in a red-and-white gimme cap. «I was sittin´ there, just startin´ to mow the lawn, and I saw that Ferrari. Boy, that´s a beautiful thing. And I thought, That´s ol´ Nic. »

«Yeah,» says Cage, standing in the street, palms out. «I came back, just sort of feeling nostalgic about where I grew up. It really looks good, you know. It´s really peaceful here.»

«You´re doin´ rather well, » the old man says.

«Oh, I gess so. »

«Gettin´ along. »

«Yeah, » says Nicolas Cage, standing in the sunlight, the echo of mourning in his voice dredged up from the bottom of some far-off well. «Yeah. I am.»

When Cage moves off to chat with a couple on the sidewalk, I sidle to the old man. What does he remember of young Nic?

«Very little, to tell ya the truth. I was always workin´. If my wife was here, she´d talk your leg off. Several years ago, on the Fourth ofJuly, he stopped by him and his mom and his brother.»

I turn and see Cage standing beside the Ferrari, his right arm looped around the shoulders of a woman, her left arm looped around his waist. Her husband is snapping a picture, preserving the hard evidence of his return.

-- Edited by mara at 11:37, 2007-09-15


Senorita Vixen

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RE: Nic revisits his childhood house in this 1998 interview - second part


We´ve had a long and tortured trip from Hollywood, thirty miles north. Cage wouldn´t, couldn´t, make it any other way. «I took the Ferrari, » he´d warned at his production office on Sunset Boulevard. «But on the way down, I noticed skmoke. » Shrug. «So I guess it´ll be even more of an adventure. »

The smoke turns out to be nothing more than the oily residue of two months sitting idle while Cage was on location; the adventure proper consists of finding Hackett Avenue in Long Beach. No sooner have I squeezed into the ´67 Ferrari than Cage says, «I brought us a Thomas Guide, » and thrusts into my hands a binder of maps as thick as the Pentateuch.

No actor of our time can match the range of sound the depths of Everyman´s psychoses like Nicolas Cage -from the infant-snatching sad sack of Raising Arizona and the deranged, roach-scarfing yuppie of Vampire´s Kiss to the homicidal asthmatic of Kiss of Death and the suicidal sot of Leaving Las Vegas -but still this is a puzzlement; a thirty-fou-year-old man of normal wit who has lived in Southern California and nowhere else and who cannot find his way to the house where he spent the first twelve years of his life.

Driving, he talks. I turn the tape recorder on and putter with the maps. Long Beach: no problem -we take the 405 south. But Nic Cage, like all So-Cal natives, suffers the dread of exiting the freeway. «So, so when do I have to -when do I have to get off the road? » he asks, a catch in his voice.

I thumb through the guide, deep into its Deuteronomy. Culver City begets Hawthorne. Hawthorne begets Gardena. Gardena begets Torance. Torrance begets Carson. The four-hundred-horsepower Ferrari -a twelve-cylynder, two-seat hardtop -is snarling like a bottled hornet, and Nicolas Cage´s voice drifts over the noise of the engine as if out of a dream.

«I remember when I was a kid, » he muses. «We used to have to drive through this factory. We´re gonna pass a factory, and we´re gonna smell it. » I look up to see him smiling, warm and absent, at the windshield.

This is special. This is a marvelous example of what the great acting teacher Stanislavsky, in his seminal An Actor Prepares, terms an emotion memory. Unfortunately, I can do nothing much with it, routewise.

I Hackett Avenue an exit?

«It´s not an exit, no. Palo Verde is an exit, maybe -I don´t know. Palo Verde or Atherton. We gotta figure out how to get to that. »

Palo Verde is indeed an exit, a major artery. Hackett Avenue runs parallel to it.

Is it close to Cal State Long Beach?

«Very close. That´s where my dad taught. »

August Coppola was a professor of literature when the family lived on Hackett Avenue. Cage´s mother, Joy Vogelsang, was a dancer of some renown. Of their three sons, Nic was the youngest by two years. It was not the happiest home, nor is it a subject Nicolas Cage talks about anymore.

«I feel my family has in some ways been the victim of my publicity, » he says, closing the discussion as soon as it begins. What he´s said about it in the past makes it clear that behind the Coppola door on Hackett Avenue -as behind many another carefully closed door, anywhere- everyone was, in some sense, a victim. Nic´s mother, harrowed by severe clincial depressions, was hospitalized for long periods, beginning when Nic was six years old. While the boy sought refuge inside the family TV -«I was trying to figure out how to get inside, » he says, «literally, physically» -August and Joy struggled to keep the marriage going for six more years. After the divorce, August took custody, feeding his youngest son a steady mix of culture -cinema, fine arts, Great Books -and moving to the edge of Beverly Hills so that Nic could attend a better high school.

He dropped out in his senior year to study acting. «I broke my father´s heart, » he says, wincing even now. «He wanted me to become a writer, because to him writing was -and I agree with him- the root of all creativity. »

Absolutely. Still, the fact that August had ferried Nic to San Francisco to spend the summers with his cousins there -oh yes, and with Godfather and Apocalypse Now director Uncle Francis Ford Coppola, August´s Oscar-winning brother- surely must have cushioned the shock, if not the hearbreak, of Nic´s decision.

He changed his name in 1983, weary of being asked about Francis at every audition and of the assumption that his last name would light his path. As Nicolas Cage, he scored big with the critics the next year as a wounded vet in Birdy and made his starry bones playing a lunated baker with a wooden hand and a love-roiled heart opposite Cher in 1987´s Moonstruck. He was all of twenty-three years old then. Take away the money, the awards, the fame, and what´s left of Nic Cage is an artist whose reach and power transcend genre and script, a risk taker whose bravura and control are perpetually warring, and ad-lib Mannerist who has learned to paly it straight. «There´s a very fine line, he says now, between the Method actor and the shizophrenic. »

I ask him why he chose acting. «Acting for me is this incredibly sacred hero that came and saved my life, » he says. «To me, it´s been like a therapy -it´s what´s kept me balanced, kept me with a sense of purpose. I could get all the stuff out of me that I had, all that fire -anger, or love, or lust. Anything. » He pauses, then goes on. «All actors are wounded birds -we coulnd´t really be doing anything else. I´ve done scenes with five extremely talented actors all in the same room -one guy´s barking, another´s shouting profanity, the others in a trance, one´s asking to be hit. It looks like we´re all in a nuthouse. We take our afflictions and we transform them into a place where they can be, be glorified. When the fact of the matter is, historically, we´re all street urchins. Gypsies. We came out of the gutter. We´ve become so glorified in the movie-star system that it´s become this artificial royalty, which, if you look at the roots of it, is completeley preposterous. The truth is that we´re circus clowns. »

Cage has made movies half his life now -more than thirty films in seventeen years- working steadily, at times constantly, with directors as wildly disparate as David Lynch and Norman Jewison and even Uncle Francis; Cage can currently be seen in Brian de Palma´s Sanke Eyes. Word is that Woody Allen wants Cage for a lead in his next film -«I can´t really talk about that, » he says -and he is working for the first time with Martin Scorsese on a project titled Bringing Out the Dead.

Cage onscreen remains a treat -quirky, soulful, alive- even when the movie stinks, which most of his don´t, although since, oh, 1993, say, with Amos & Andrew, through 1994´s It Could Happen to You, Guarding Tess, and Trapped in Paradise and his post-Oscar triptych of action-thriller slag -The Rock, Face/Off, Con Air- they´ve been largely box-office gold and cinematic dreck.

Those last three films in particular strike me as a waste of Cage´s time and talent. Watching them on video as preparation for our time together, I was stunned by how closely even the best of the action genre hews to the rigid structure of hardcore pornography (not that I´ve ever seen any, but I´ve read abou it), from the redundant fantasies of ludicrous plot and the plodding, inane explication of the dialogue to the wallpaper of lousy music and the too-brief intervals between the choreographed spurting of blood and cum.

Nic Cage ain´t buying it. «You can parallel anything to anything if you want to, but I´m not goin´ there. I don´t think it´s crap to go to a movie and get your mind off problems. If you just wanna get stupid, that´s not crap. Why not see if it´s possible to give all the explosions and whatever it is that stimulates people and gets their minds off their problems -which I think in cogent and nothing to be ashamed of. We´re in an entertainment industry. It´s not just putting on the beret and smoking a Gitane and saying, ¢I´m only going to do foreign films because I´m erudite and I´m so cool.¢ I don´t buy that. I think it´s a matter of doing every kind of movie you can possibly do. »

He´s got the Ferrari wound to about eighty-five miles per hour, passing a line of semis on the right. The heat in the passenger compartment is basting my legs. On the map, Hackett Avenue looks like a series of short dead-end blocks.

«I can go from one universe and bounce to the other. I can make I will make- another small, independent movie; I´ll make another dark film. That´s why I have a production company so I can continue to make smaller, edgy films. »

Edgy? I´m not sure I´ve heard him correctly over the engine. Itchy, maybe?

«Edgy. »

We like edgy.

«We were thinking of calling it Edgy Films. »

I want edgy.

«You´ll get a lot of edgy. A lot of edy´s coming out of me, man. »

I feel a sense of edginess filling our space right now.

«It´s what we call edge. You´ve heard of wall-to-wall carpet? This is wall-to-wall edge. »

You cut yourself just breathing the air.

«It´s that edgy, » agrees Nic Cage.

It´s also time to leave the bossom of the 405. I go back to the maps while the tumblers inside Cage´s head continue to spin.

«You think Buddy Hackett lives on Hackett? I mean, George Lucas live in Lucas Valley -why doesn´t Buddy Hackett live on Hackett? We gotta find this place, we realy do This, this return, the homecoming, as it were That was the other high school -I didn´t go there. » I look up and see the school flash by. They´re putting on a performance of A Streetcar Named Desire. «That´d be fun to do, to go to a high school play. That´d be amazing. What tiem are they putting that on? I would love to do that. I mean, hell But we gotta figure this out There´s Atherton. A right on Atherton? » Yep.

«This is looking good. I´m feeling a sense of something here. I coud be wrong. »

We´re roaring up and down empty, sunlit streets, all of which are utterly identical.

«We´re gonna make the move now. A right? Here we go-we´re goin´ in. It´s changed a lot, I have to tell ya I´m not recognizing much. This is twenty years ago»

After a few minutes, I realize that we should´ve gone left on Atherton. Cage nods and turns us around. He hits the brakes when we finally reach Hackett. «That´s it. That´s it. Oh, man. How, how, how cool. »

Until he notices the missing jacaranda and walks through his old front door.

-- Edited by mara at 11:36, 2007-09-15

-- Edited by mara at 11:38, 2007-09-15


Senorita Vixen

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Nic revisits his childhood house in this 1998 interview - first part

I haven´t found this interview among the many others Colleen has on Cagefactor. So I assumed maybe you never had a chance to read it. Very revealing.


Scott Raab


Vol. 130, No.3, ISSN: 1194-9535

September 1, 1998

Ride with us to Long Beach, where all Nic Cage is and might have been still resides in a house on a street called Hackett


These modest ranches side by side by side -white clapboard, pastel stucco -their eaveshadowed door frontsbearded with the shrubbery of perpetual spring; these short-trimmed rectangles of lawn, edged down their tidy, wide driveways to the abrupt, empty sidewalk; these streets treetop aeries where the shirping power lines and buxxing birds meld with the insect´s thrum into the eternal song suburban: this perfect block -anywhere, to look at it, but exactly here- tucked away in sunny desolation, walled in by normalcy.

Here, exactly. Each home has its number, each family its name, each square of turf its history behind the whitewashed door: tides of war and conquest; crusades of honor, freedom, love, and gold. But this is not our script today. Today, Nic Cage comes home -a morning jaunt, wistful yet lighthearted- exactly here, to Hackett Avenue in Long Beach, California.

Then Cage sees the house where he grew up, and his nostalgia curdles into skittish silence. He paces the empty street beside his shriek-yellow Ferrari, fretting, his hands jammed into his pockets, his narrow face pointed eyeless at the ground. The onscreen Everyman of a culture constantly attuned to the whispering in its head, Jimmy Stewart yanked inside out, every nerve end aflame in the raw air: Where else could he have come from but this perfect block?

«What are the rules», he asks, «of , like, knocking on people´s doors and saying hi, but having a reporter from Esquire magazine with you? »

Rules? We don´t need not steenking rules. They´ll be thrilled.

«I don´t even know if anybody´s still here. I just thought it´d be an ,an , an experience. But what a surprise attack, though -I mean, I haven´t been here in, like, twenty years. »

Nic, Nic -folks do this all the time. This is supposed to be fun.

«What do we do? »

Uh, walk and knock on the door? This, after all, is only life: no script, no storyboards, no sountrack, no severed ear decaying in the grass, no extraterrestrial stashed in the closet. It´ll be nice.

He stands, hands on hips, puzzled. «It doesn´t look the same at all. There used to be this beautiful jacaranda tree right in the front -it had periwinkle blossoms. They chopped it down. Yeahhh. It´s like a little, a little, a little -it´s unsettling, I gotta tella ya. Why would they chop it down? »

Maybe it fell down. Was the house always pink?

«No. I think it was green. I´m not sure. I dont know. We can´t just go in.»

He seems genuinely nervou, ready to bolt. At the door, he knocks twice, quickly. Off-camera, to our left, a woman from the next house down opens her door and comes toward us, yowling her delight. She stops in her tracks a few feet away, staring.

«I´m Maggie, she calls out. You´re a big movie star. »

«I guess, yeah. That´s me. I grew up here. »

«The neighbors told us about you coming by and dropping in. »

Cage looks dumfounded. «I never did that before, » he says.

«You haven´t? They said you did. They said you came by one time. »

«How long ago? »

Maggie shrugs. From a nearby backyard, a dog begins barking; another, a few houses away, answers.

«I came by here once», Cage murmurs. «I came by here with my brothers once, a long time ago. »

«She may not answer, » Maggie says. «She may not come, with you being a man. »

«Oh? » says Cage, his voice lilting in dude-ish befuddlement. «I´m sorry? »

«She may not come, with you being a man. Two men. »

«Oh. Oh. Oh, I see what you´re saying. »

Maggie cups her hands around her mouth and yells at the door where we´re talking. «Ellen! Elllllennnn! » she shrills, then steps right past us to her neighbor´s door and begins to rap her knuckles exictedly on its tiny square of glass.

«That´s okay, » Cage says, edging away slowly. «That´s fine -we´ll let her be. I might go walk around the boulevard.»

«I´m telling you, » Maggie says, reluctant to let him vanish into the ether, «one of the neighbors told us that you came by here one night. »

«Well, my brother has been here. »

«Okay, well, that must be who it was. »

«My brother came by. Maybe she´s thinking of my brother. »

Suddenly, Maggie is jumping up and down. «She´s coming to the door!» she shouts. «She´s coming to the door! »

Yes. Ellen, fortyish, pulls open the door. Her hair is undone. She´s wearing a flowered blue housdress, what my mother used to call a duster. Though she smiles brightly to see the winner of the 1995 Academy Award for Best Actor on her stoop, she looks as if she has been asleep until a minute ago.

«Hi, » says Nicolas Cage shyly. «Hi. I used to live here. »

«I know,»Ellen says dreamily. «One day, I guess a few years ago, you were pounding the door, and I got-»

«I dont think it was me, » Cage says before she can finish the sentence. «Ahhh, d´you remember meeting me before?»

«Noooo, » says Ellen. Was it a dream? Is this? How do you mistake another man, even his brother, for Nicolas Cage?

«But it´s nice to meet you now, » he says, waving one ivory hand. «I´m Nicolas. Hi. »

Ellen laughs, saggin a bit, her legs rubbery. Speechless.

«Well, I just wanted to say hi, » says Nicolas, eyelids aflutter. «I, uh, wanted to come back. I love it here. There used to be a big tree, a big jacaranda tree, in the front of the house, that had periwinkle blossoms on it. Do you remember that? »

He ducks his head, pauses a beat, and, raising it again, strains to compose his doe-eyed face into something like a relaxed and winnning grin. It winds up as a small boy´s smile, touched with rue, adorable and yet uneasy with itself. This isn´t acting -this is life; but then, too, I am here watching him, listening to him stammer as he culls the surge and tingle of apparently unbidden emotion for the word he needs, noting the fey black-and-white shoes worn with his old blue jeans and navy T-shirt, seeing all of it -even the veins cording his sleek neck, his ropy forearms and well-tuned biceps -as theater, as character, as Method, fallen blossoms fo the missing tree, proof of what once happened on this spot to young Nicky Coppola.

Cut to Ellen, shaking her head. «It wasn´t here. Our neighbors had one, and I used to love it. I remember they cut theirs down. »

«Yeah yeah, » Cage says. «Well, listen, I don´t wanna take any more of your time. » «Oh, God, » says Ellen.

«That´s all right, » Cage says. «No, no, please. Thank you for... »

«Want to come sign a wall?»

«If you, if you, if you want me to, I will. Yes. »

«Yes, » Ellen says, right on cue. «Yesyesyesyes. »

-- Edited by mara at 11:36, 2007-09-15

-- Edited by mara at 11:38, 2007-09-15

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